Spring time bills
Currently I am concentrating on saving money to pay some of the yearly bills that I know are coming: national old age pension bills (“nenkin”) arrive in March; national public health insurance (“kokumin hoken”)and local ward taxes (“juminzei”) both arrive in June. Japanese bills habitually have due dates at the end of the month because most Japanese receive their pay on or about the 25th. Some of my work pays on that schedule, but not all of it. I have at least four different pay days each month from various part-time jobs. That means that it is sometimes difficult to pay the bills on time because their due dates do not always correspond with my pay days. It’s not a matter of money in the bank. It’s a matter of having enough money in the bank at the right time. You gotta keep track of your money! Penalties are threatened if bills are not paid on time. But if I go to the local city office and explain to them that I cannot pay a certain bill at a certain time because I don’t have the money for it they give every impression of not understanding, like they don’t understand the idea of not being paid on or about the 25thlike everyone else. All they do is repeat, “You must to pay! You must to pay!” Repetition plays a major role in Japanese rhetoric. In debate, speakers usually start by announcing their position, and then instead of laying out an argument of gradual logical steps building towards their position in the conclusion they just repeat the same statements again and again. “You must pay! It’s the law, you must to pay!”
If I miss paying a bill the ward office sends me another one in the post as a kind of gentle reminder. When that happens I just mail it right back to them. I don’t need extra bills because I still have the originals, waiting for sufficient funds. Usually, though, I manage to pay all the bills on time by the skin of my teeth.